My Dad’s Garlic Bread Recipe

My dad's garlic bread recipe - garlic, lots of butter, chives, and lemon zest slathered on a wide baguette. A garlic-studded, golden crusted masterpiece.

My Dad’s Garlic Bread

Garlic bread is one of my dad's specialties. But before we get into the details, let me back up a bit and start by saying that I was one of the fortunate kids growing up - really lucky. My dad cooked dinner for us nearly every night when he got home from work - AND he loved to do the dishes (a trait that clearly skips a generation). Well into my teen years friends tolerated slightly less liberal curfews at the Swanson household in exchange for the payoff the next morning - my dad's Saturday standard consisting of homemade biscuits, eggs, bacon, and freshly squeezed orange juice. The only problem my sister and I could identify was the early hour it was served. He would plate up at 8 a.m. laughing as he bellowed "up all night, up all day!"

I called my dad yesterday and asked him about his garlic bread. Everyone loves these garlic-studded, golden-crusted masterpieces and he brings baskets brimming with slices to lots of 'events' - office parties, picnics, parades, bingo night (somehow he ended up being a caller?). My dad is a chronic volunteer, so there are lots of opportunities for him to display his garlic bread-making prowess. I've had it a thousand times, but never paid much attention to his technique, so today was the day.

What follows is more of a technique than an actual recipe. The amount of garlic you'll end up using will correspond with the size of your bread loaf. My dad likes to use those giant supermarket 'artisan' bread loaves. I suspect it is because the larger loaves have more of the white bread 'flesh' enabling the absorption of lots and lots of garlic infused butter. I opted for a wide/tall french baguette from the bakery up the street from my house. You don't want to go with too narrow a baguette or you wind up with the wrong ratio of soft, garlic-buttery insides to crust. The baguettes with more body stay nice and moist throughout the baking and broiling. It's actually hard to go wrong, I mean this is garlic bread we are talking about - but the kind of bread you choose will define your final outcome.

I couldn't help leaving my little mark (and a bit of visual flair) on the recipe, so I added lots of lemon zest and chopped chives.

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My Dad's Garlic Bread

The size of your baguette will determine how much butter and garlic you'll use. My dad uses roughly one head of garlic for each stick of butter.

1 loaf artisan French bread or wide baguette
1 - 2 heads of garlic
1 - 2 sticks of unsalted butter
1 bunch of chives (optional)
zest of one lemon (optional)

As told to me by my father. Slice that loaf of bread right up the middle so you have two halves (he uses his serrated knife for this). Now set them on their backs, cut side up. Mince the garlic or push it through one of those crushers - either way is fine. Now add it to the butter you should be melting in a small saucepan.

(This is where he got really animated). Now take a basting brush (or any brush for that matter - pastry, etc) and start slathering the garlic butter all across that bread. Really go for it, let it soak in. He then says to me, "heck, sometimes I even pour it on." (At which point I can't help but think that my mom would be mortified). Make sure you get all those garlic chunks evenly distributed. Now sometimes my dad makes a garlic bread in advance and freezes it (don't ask). If you are going to freeze the bread for later, this is when you do it - you don't want to bake, then freeze.

He recommends the 'double-bake' as he calls it. This is when you bake at a standard temperature (350 degrees) for 10 to 15 minutes to heat the bread (particularly if it is coming out of the freezer), and then brown it off for color under the broiler for a minute or two.

When the bread is finished broiling let it cool for a minute or two. This is when I sprinkle with the lemon zest and chives (and to be honest, I sprinkle a bit of zest on the bread before it goes in the oven too because I like that roasted lemon flavor alongside the garlic.) Slice and serve.

The short version of this recipe:
Cut, slather, bake, brown, slice.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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I've been doing the double-bake technique for a while now and it is definitely the key to getting good crispy bread. I would add however that this works even better by using a loaf of slightly underbaked bread (I get a partially baked french loaf from Trader Joe's). It allows the butter to really soak down into the bread as it cooks, plus it adds that freshly-baked taste. I recommend trying it out!


Thanks for sharing the "double-bake" tip. Garlic bread is my son's favorite, but we never tried it with lemon. Sounds great! Mouthwatering photo - one can almost smell and feel the texture of the bread.

polish pottery

Hi there! I love your site and I made this bread last night. I only put it in the oven for 10 mins, right temperature, and it burnt the garlic to a crisp. I would suggest that if anyone gives this a go, they should keep an eye on it, and don't let the garlic burn: 10-15 mins is a long time for those little bits of garlic to survive all exposed in a hot oven. We still shook the burnt garlic off and gobbled it down! I will definitely give it another go.


I made this tonight for my two teenage boys. They loved it. My problem in the past was not using the right bread. I used a rosemary focaccia bread with sea salt. Your dad is a genius!!!


The best I have ever tasted.......Its crunchy and soft and full of the buttery flavor.... And the lemon zest just did it. Thank you for sharing it.


That was awesome!Yum!


Wow, your vivid descriptions and that gorgeous picture have me wildly drooling now :P


I would love to know what´s your dad´s solar sign...


OMG! This is making me hungry! I think I may have to run to the store right now to get all the supplies! MMMMMMMMMMMMM...


This is really a recipe for love. Do something in the kitchen with your kids that they will smile about years down the road. Thank your Dad for the reminder.


Doesn't the garlic and lemon combination turn blue or green??


I'm also a huge fan of your beautiful pictures & delicious recipes. I made this yummy bread today and it didn't even last 5 minutes...all gone :) Made it with a multigrain sourdough rustic bread. Fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing all this goodness with us.


Cute story. I can't wait to try the recipe!!

Lani James

hi, well i am from India, and a regular at ur site.... i love visiting it (althoughthis is the forst time i am writing).... but i have to tell u that it is by far the best way to tell a receipe i love cooking and ur recepies always adda personal touch to cooking.... which is why i am hooked on to ur site... btw the bread looks amazing..!!! right now i am in hostel but will try out ur recepies as soon as i go home...


Wow, that looks so good! I'm sure you've been told this hundreds of times before but your photography is amazing.


Has anyone actually tried the recipe, just a thought.

Romany Jones.

I Love garlic bread and I can not wait to try it!!


My mouth is watering! This is my kind of recipe--I could eat garlic bread all day long.


Wow, an hommage to your father. I can totally relate with most of the things you wrote about your own. Mine was an excellent cook, and loved to do breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have fond memories of crepes, bouche du juge, mortadella sandwiches and awesome dinners. To top it off, great recipe. Thanks for making me smile. Cassie.

Cassie's Kitchen Recipes

i am finding great pleasure too to share my views on this link.this is really great. even if we dont know each other i got to read so many experinces and fond moments of unknown people. i love garlic bread especially from domino. My dad too. he is fond of cooking and tries his hands on every new dish that he tastes in a restaurant. He is a great cook and i think he can prepare any dish. Poonam


I grew up with garlic bread, too, and have so many fond memories! I married an Italian and now regularly serve yummy artisan bread with this dip: Maybe someday my boys will ask me for the recipe, too!


Fantastic article and picture. I think it is so great that people can relate food to memories of childhood. I have plenty myself- like my mom never cooking (j/k). In all seriousness, my Dad cooked a lot as well. He however like to make soups, noodle dishes and create some weird toppings to go on fish. This story reminded me of him back in the day. He still does this but never like he use to. The garlic bread looks great and I can't wait to try it this weekend! Sarah


This looks scrumptious! Perfect accompaniment for my pasta dinner tonight. Thanks a ton Heidi! :)


Looks very good. Your dad makes the recipe great, by the way he tells it. I will surely try it out!


wow... looks soooo yummy! I bookmarked it in case I will need it someday.... in fact I know I will need it someday... :P


such an easy recipe that even a newbie like me can do! hope I'll achieve the result that your dad has! I'll try it sometime to serve at the bar. Thanks!!


It appears cooking is in your genes. That garlic bread looks wonderful, and I love your twist of adding chives and lemon. Your version has real kick.


Heidi, Thankyou for reminding me that all these evenings and Saturday mornings are eventually going to pay rich dividends!! I'm a stay-at-home dad and fix dinner nightly (tonite we had grilled homestyle pork ribs slathered in olive oil and herbes de provence, baked potatoes also slathered in olive oil, sea salt, and garlic/basil parmesan, and sweet corn.) THIS GARLIC BREAD RECIPE WILL BE AN INSTANT CLASSIC!!! Garlic is a food group at our house, as evidenced by our lack of trips to the Dr's office. Keep posting!!!! Call your dad and tell him one more time how much you love him and what a great influence he had on your culinary life.


YES to the simple pleasures! Garlic bread at my house was made with a whole loaf of crusty bread, sliced down, with the garlic butter spread on the slices. Wrap in foil, then bake. It's wonderful. That said, I make it like your father, had almost forgotten the other. Your story kicked in memories -- thanks.

Susan G

My dad was the cook also. He loved to make garlic bread or anything with garlic but he had to do it when my mom wasn't home because she loathes the smell of garlic.


Love the story, but..... isn't the plural of "loaf" LOAVES? I was reading and hearing recently about the death of spelling and grammar learning in schools. It seems that computer spell-check and grammar check are killing the language.....


mmmmm....can't wait to try this looks so good!


I have been doing this same type of garlic bread, as taught to me by my mom, for years and it is very good! The only thing I do differently sometimes is to sprinkle freshly grated mozzarella on the top of everything. It helps to cut the bread in pieces before you put it in the oven and before you put the cheese on so when it comes out hot, you don't have to cut hot bread. Just don't cut it all the way through and when it's done you can tear apart the pieces with you hands. It is a great family recipe!


I have been doing this same type of garlic bread, as taught to me by my mom, for years and it is very good! The only thing I do differently sometimes is to sprinkle freshly grated mozzarella on the top of everything. It helps to cut the bread in pieces before you put it in the oven and before you put the cheese on so when it comes out hot, you don't have to cut hot bread. Just don't cut it all the way through and when it's done you can tear apart the pieces with you hands. It is a great family recipe!


A great story, great pictures and a great recipe. 'Butter makes it better' is a saying my mother used to use!


That looks like some of the best garlic bread I have ever seen. This is a fantastic post.


Looks and sounds fantastic! A recipe like this is worth the garlic through the pores the next day! ha ha! Great post - thanks!


We adore (adore, mind you!) garlic bread, and this one sounds gorgeous, but 1 - 2 sticks of butter is positively lethal. If you want to ease away from all that cholesterol, you can try a 50 / 50 butter and olive oil combo. Or, if you don't need that butter taste (and I know, I know - sometimes nothing else will do), you can go all olive oil. The other thing you can try is parmigiano reggiano in lieu of the chives and lemon. Half cup grated and you have a nice variation to enjoy. Thanks!

almost vegetarian

I couldn't help but smile imagining your dad get animated and passionate about one of his pet recipes! How adorable :) Great recipe!! I do the same thing, but with slices of supermarket wholemeal bread, but I coom it on a pan on medium heat, letting the buttered side get brown and extremely crunchy! That's how they used to serve it in a great salad bar called "Sizzler" in Singapore.


Sounds delicious, I'm off to the shop to purchase your said ingredients, maybe with a hint of oregano as well

Jesse-Lee Stringer

Heidi, Great writing about your dad! But um...I will have to wait on this recipe, you see, I can't make this for just my fiance and I because we would eat the whole loaf, then I would be stuck thinking, "I just ate a stick of butter" : ) So, I will have to wait until friends come over, then I will fool myself into thinking I only ate a half stick... perfectly healthy...ahh...mind games with myself, love it! Thanks for the post!


I can relate-my husband makes breakfast for all teenagers who crash at our house-he yells for them to come and get it as he plates kind of early as well. Ha.


Your Dad's garlic bread looks awesome! You are lucky to have a dad to cook and clean, I don't have that, but I do have a terrific hubby who does just that, and he makes the garlic bread too, I will surely pass this procedure to him, I can't wait to try it! It always seems better when someone else's does it, although I make a mean garlic bread too!


thank you dearly for sharing this recipe. i hope to make it with my father next time i visit.

Linda, The Village Vegetable

I'm salivating. I had a great garlic bread a couple of weeks ago with vegan margarine, too (Earth Balance, of course), which was great. Okay, now I want this for lunch!


Great photo.


Laughing, for sure but it's clear that passion for food is inherited! I'm also wondering if the bread, um, really makes that much difference when you're pouring on a cup of butter?! No matter, I'll take your word for it :-)


This is similar to my own recipe, although I have never tried melting the butter. I allow the butter to come to room temperature, mix it with the garlic, and then slather it on the bread. I sprinkle paparika and parmesan on top, then also use a bake and broil technique.


I like to add parmesan cheese. Also, you might try metling butter in a large saute pan (oven proof), adding garlic, and then adding bread (cut side down) to the pan. Saute for a few minutes, then turn right side up and put in the oven. Finish up under the broiler.


I have fond memories of coming home when I was young to the smell of garlic bread in the oven. It's a simple dish that opens the eyes of a young person to the great world of food.


I love this Heidi, the casual and animated re-telling, the sense of your history here. In a way, these are always my favorite recipes.


Finally someone who uses as much garlic and butter as my family! You can't be shy with either! Delicious!


This is such a beautiful blog! The photo of the garlic bread is wonderful and is making me very hungry!


1 - 2 heads of garlic and 1 - 2 sticks of unsalted butter -- with ingredients like that how could you go wrong? Thanks!


How funny. My dad also did the cooking when I was a kid and made awesome garlic bread too!


I ADORE garlic bread and this looks especially yummy!


Hey Heidi! Lovely photo and story. My dad was a soda jerk when he lived in the Bronx many years ago. He learned to make all the "diner" favorites, so we grew up eating tuna melts and meatloaf. He also was a master at lox, eggs and onions. Your dad's garlic bread is very similar to my recipe/technique. I also melt the butter and use a silicone brush to spread it on the bread (favoring whole grains these days). I also sprinkle oregano, basil, and freshly ground sea salt and pepper to mine before I bake it, then toast it in the toaster oven. Sometimes when I'm feeling really indulgent, I'll sprinkle a nice Italian cheese on top of the garlic bread, close the two halves, wrap the whole thing in foil and bake it until the cheese melts. Thanks for your beautiful blog. Best, Deb


Beautifully written, great food

YAHTI chef

I love garlic bread and this recipe sounds wonderful. But even more wonderful is the telling. It takes me way back and reminds me of my own stories, although truth be told, my father was not the cook yours is. That said, he loved my mother's version which is very similar to your dad's. I, on the other hand, can't wait to add some lemon zest to mine. Thanks for sharing.


Your dad is has it right with the soaking in. The pouring is not a bad idea either. The more butter, the better the browning!!!


The 'method' is great and one I will try (probably tonight)...THOROUGHLY enjoy your writing on the subject....thanks be to Google for the link to your site!


I'm with your dad on the "double-bake" part. Love the addition of the citrus as well.

Susan from Food "Blogga"

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